Los Angeles - Quick-Step's Fernando Gaviria steered clear of
a big crash in the closing kilometres to win the fifth stage of the Tour of
California on Thursday as Tejay Van Garderen maintained the overall lead.
Colombia's Gaviria, who won the opening stage in Long Beach
on Sunday, held of Australian Caleb Ewan of Mitchelton and Slovakian Peter
Sagan (Bora) in a sprint finish to the 176 kilometre stage from Stockton to Elk
There was no change in the overall standings, with Van
Garderen maintaining the 23-second lead over Team Sky's Egan Bernal that he
claimed with a victory in the time-trial fourth stage on Wednesday.
But there was drama in the closing 10 kilometres as
Britain's Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data and Katusha Alpecin's Marcel Kittel
battled mechanical trouble and punctures before a crash wreaked havoc in the
peloton with less than three kilometres remaining.
Gaviria's Quick-Step team took charge at the front with less
than 200 meters to go and delivered the 23-year-old to the line ahead of a
charging Ewan and Sagan - the three-time world champion who won the Tour of
California in 2015 and owns a record 16 stage wins in the event.
As in the previous four stages, a five-rider breakaway
formed in the opening kilometres when Stijn Vandenbergh, Michael Rice, Ruben
Companioni, Fabian Lienhard and Tanner Putt built a lead of more than three
minutes on the peloton, only to be reeled in with 18 kilometres remaining.
Van Garderen said he expected more of a challenge in
Friday's pivotal sixth stage, which includes seven categorized climbs on the
196.5-kilometer route from Folsom to South Lake Tahoe.
"Today was, I wouldn't say a recovery day but we got to
relax a little bit," Van Garderen said. "It's going to be a really
aggressive race tomorrow. Bernal is going to do everything he can to wrestle
this jersey off of me.
"I'm going to do everything I can to keep it on my back,"
Results and standings after Thursday's fifth stage of the Tour of California, 176 km from Stockton to Elk Grove:
1. Fernando Gaviria (COL/Quick-Step) 4hr 4min 34sec (average 43.3 km/h), 2. Caleb Ewan (AUS/Mitchelton) same time, 3. Peter Sagan (SVK/Bora) s.t., 4. Rick Zabel (GER/Katusha) s.t., 5. John Murphy (USA/Holowesko) s.t., 6. Sean Bennett (USA/Hagens) s.t., 7. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (ARG/UnitedHealthcare) s.t., 8. Ivo Oliveira (POR/Hagens) s.t., 9. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/TeamEmirates) s.t., 10. Travis McCabe (USA/UnitedHealthcare) s.t.
Overall standings after 5 of 7 stages
1. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 16hr 55min 29sec, 2. Egan Bernal (COL/TeamSky) at 23sec, 3. Daniel Martnez (COL/EF-Drapac) 37, 4. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR/TeamSky) 52, 5. Adam Yates (GBR/Mitchelton) 1:07, 6. Rafal Majka (POL/Bora) 1:29, 7. Brandon McNulty (USA/Rally) 2:08, 8. Laurens De Plus (BEL/Quick-Step) 2:13, 9. Kristijan Durasek (CRO/TeamEmirates) 2:15, 10. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC) 2:34